The PC Problem

October 11, 2007
By Jamieson Gray, Palatine, IL

The spoken word. What we have come to call language can be eloquent. It can be guttural. It can be inspiring. It can be obscene. Yet however it manifests itself, language is one of only two ways humans express themselves, the other being action. Then why is there a pervasive attempt to regulate our speech? Now it is understandable that some language is indeed vulgar and unnecessary. The problem arises when, as a society, we become too sensitive and cannot draw the line between something that needs to be censored and something that is a justifiable opinion. Once this ultra-sensitivity occurs, we enter into the dreaded scourge of any discourse: we enter into Political Correctness.

Political correctness (often abbreviated to PC) is the use of language or behavior that is intended, or said to be intended, to provide a minimum of offense, particularly to racial, cultural, or other identity groups, according to Wikipedia. The setback with political correctness comes from this phrase – a minimum of offense. If everyone is so worried about offending everyone else, how can society continue to grow? Throughout history, conflict has spurred invention and progressive thought. Now, war is not advocated war by any means. Simply, if one cannot be open to a colleague because he is a different race than oneself, and one would be seen as racist, then how could the world improve? So, the first issue with being PC is the apprehension with which we would approach a situation due to the risk of offending someone. Also, it raises the question of who would say what is and isn’t politically correct. Finally, political correctness is completely unnecessary.

To begin, political correctness will cause unwarranted trepidation in ordinary conversions. A simple “Whatsup dawg” could be offensive to someone who doesn’t like being referred to as an animal. A “You’re looking hot today” might be taken as sexual assault when it was intended as a sincere compliment. When we begin to analyze every off-hand comment for implications and hidden degrading meanings, we lose that which makes conversing enjoyable. We lose the pure act of two people talking to one another maybe with a purpose, maybe not, and it becomes two rabid reporters hunting for any slip of the tongue with which to destroy the other. Now, many would argue that this is exaggeration and that PC could never get to that level of paranoia. Nevertheless, once our society reaches a certain point of political correctness, the downward spiral would be irreversible.
As written by Philip Atkinson, “Once expression gets placed in a straitjacket of official truth, then the madness that occurs in all totalitarian states is obtained. Life, in private and public, becomes a meaningless charade where delusion thrives and terror rules.” Now this is a bit heavier than previously alluded to. However, on a far grander scale, this is what political correctness is. It is the state’s sly way of getting the masses to think and talk a certain way. In fact according to Bill Lind, the most similar theories to PC are Marxist teachings. If one changes the economy in Marxism to culture, it becomes a society that is bound by the government’s specific regulations, which attempt to control every aspect of their lives. This also leads us into our next topic: who would decide what is and isn’t politically correct?

In order for political correctness to be effective at all, there would need to be a single body to dictate its rules. This would most easily be the government or an extension thereof. With this additional influence upon the common person’s life, government would only grow bigger and bigger until eventually our society would be a zombie-like puppet show of enforced civility. No one would speak freely, saying what he or she believed. Instead everyone would be shackled by political correctness, only being allowed to say what the government decided. Also, for one group or committee of officials to decree what hundreds of millions of people should say is preposterous. The logistics of trying to not offend every individual in this country, and much less the world, are wholly illogical and probably impossible.

The true heart of the matter is our loss of common sense as a society and a hypersensitivity to every slight and insult. If everyone would just relax, not take every jab personally, and have the self-confidence to laugh it off, political correctness would not be threatening to conquer our way of life. As reported by the Daily Mail in England, just this past April schools began to drop the Holocaust as a topic from history lessons because a government backed study found that it was offensive to Muslim students. The Holocaust! One of the most significant consequences of extreme and blind hatred is being erased from history at the risk of offending those who have a historically negative attitude toward Jews. Yet, those in power are trying to be politically correct. It is this type of illogical, senseless thinking that common sense would alleviate. We are moving into a new age of light-speed communication and unlocked secrets of the universe, but whereas we should be maturing culturally, we are digressing with political correctness. As a society, we need to realize that common sense tells us not to use racial slurs, not to prejudice on the basis of any attribute, not to allow one comment to change our self-image. If this occurs, then political correctness will not be able to shackle any of our freedoms.

To close, having to abide by a set of politically correct rules should not be an issue in today’s society because we all should have the common sense enough to treat others with respect while saying what we believe. So just remember, the next time you want to say that your chronologically gifted family member has some undesirable nondiscretionary fragrance, just tell your grandpa to put on some deodorant.

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